Inspiration and Hope: Why I am part of MFSA

Monday, April 25th, 2011 9:34 am

by Rev. Becca Clark

I am part of the Methodist Federation for Social Action because it both inspires me and gives me hope. For me, MFSA lifts up the greatest strengths and addresses the greatest areas of weakness in my denomination.

One of the biggest things that drew me to The United Methodist Church as a college student was the denomination's commitment to mission work that equips and empowers, and never uses assistance as a bait-and-switch conversion tool (read more about the UMC's values with respect to relief work here). So many times, I hear people who are skeptical about organized religion say things like, "Christians talk a good game, but they don't actually try to live like Jesus." I believe that the UMC and MFSA stand in counterpoint to this view. Although not an official board or body of the UMC, for me MFSA has functioned as the heart and soul of our denomination, inspiring us to continually seek peace and people's rights, to address systems of poverty, promote progressive initiatives, and work for justice in our own church. Foremost for me, I appreciate a strong witness for pacifism, as I believe that organized religion has too often been used to sound the drums of war.

MFSA inspires me by holding my denomination to a high standard in seeking peace and justice, which I understand to be at the heart of the Reign of God as Jesus proclaimed it. That witness calls the UMC to be the best representation of Christ's body that we can be.

And yet, we are far from perfect.

Like any human institution, my beloved denomination struggles to be a faithful witness to the vast and encompassing love of God. We fall short in our pacifism; we do not stand strongly enough in defense of the natural world, which we have been told to care for; we botch our inclusivity. We have not fully broken free of– let alone repented of– the racism and Anglo-North-American privilege that saturates so much of our movement. We cut couples off from the blessing of the church and deny the call of God to ministry in persons based on sexual orientation. And we spend so much time arguing about these things– particularly the last– that we neglect our call to be Christian community and extend the love of Christ to the world for its (and our!) transformation.

There are days when that list of shortcomings makes me want to give up.

But for the witness of MFSA, which reminds me that I am not alone. I am not the only one who wants to see a stronger pacifist stance. I am not the only one who weeps when I have to tell a couple I can't marry them.

I am not the only one who believes that we cannot tend souls without tending bodies, and we cannot preach a just and inclusive Reign of God unless we work for a just and inclusive human society.

MFSA gives me hope by naming the places where The United Methodist Church needs to become more Christlike, and building community to lovingly call us to that work. None of us needs to carry the weight of our brokenness alone, nor shoulder the burden of our need for healing as a denomination.

 

And that's why I'm part of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. Why are you?

Becca Clark is a an ordained elder in the New England Annual Conference, currently serving at Trinity United Methodist Church in Montpelier, VT.

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4 Responses to “Inspiration and Hope: Why I am part of MFSA”

  1. Rev. Steve Clunn Says:

    Becca – you're the best! As one who often finds himself getting pulled down by the cynicism of what goes on inside the institution, I need to be reminded of the high ideals and high hopes we all were called to participate in living out! Thanks for the reminder! …my hopes are soaring a little higher today and I too am grateful for the gift MFSA is to our beloved UMC!

  2. Rev. Dave Bean Says:

    Thank you for expressing so clearly what I believe so many of us feel. I am forwarding your message as a follow-up to an email I just sent my own daughter who is searching for just such hope in the face of so much over which we could despair.

  3. Louise H Hudson Says:

    Thank you, Becca1  My husband, Yeager Hudson, was a Methodist minister from 1951 through 1996 active and was an active retiree from the New England Conference. In his retirement words to the conference, he sketched the similarity of the current arguments to keeping GLBT people out of the church's service as had been used against blacks when he began his ministry in MS in the 1950's and repeated against women in the next two decades.  The same Biblical texts are mis-applied in all three cases.  He was a strong voice.  I'm glad to hear you keeping up this important struggle.  Louise HH

  4. Rene Wilbur Says:

    Becca, as usual, you speak the truth without fear–thank God for you.  The church is blessed to have you in ministry.

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